Epiphany of Our Lord parishioners exited church at midday on a hot
Sunday in July. Instead of heading straight to their air-conditioned
cars, they gathered in a mostly shaded patio.
Serving as baristas,
Brian and Andra Newsham poured coffee — the parish’s own brand of a
fair-trade blend with hints of brown sugar.
Michael Villhard sipped cup of
and reflected on the weekly gathering. “If it wasn’t for this, I
wouldn’t interact with the younger adults of the parish,” he said. “It
gets them involved. Father Michael is good at bringing the young families together.”
post-Mass coffee gathering, led by the pastor and other young adults,
is one way the parish in the Lindenwood Park neighborhood of south St.
Louis builds community. The goal is to provide a setting for more people
to interact after Mass, Brian said.
“It helps people to
communicate rather than going into Mass and then leaving” immediately
afterward, Brian said, adding that the coffee gathering’s popularity led
to a year-round enterprise instead of just during milder-weather
He’s been a parishioner 10 years and at first didn’t know
many people. But, he said, “this helped me get to know the people in the
community and parish.”
Brian enjoys seeing newcomers when they
wander over to the coffee pot, wondering what it’s all about and not
realizing it’s a free cup of coffee. “It’s a really good thing for
everybody, really unique,” he said.
Andra Newsham said it helped
her get to know people after she and Brian were married three and a half
years ago. “It gets the generations together,” Andra said.
Newshams grind and brew the coffee before Mass. “Once we hit brew, we go
into Mass and then when we come out the big silver pot is ready,” Brian
Brewing and serving the coffee has led to other volunteer
opportunities. Andra, for example, helped with vacation Bible school,
which she learned about when talking with parishioners after Mass, over
coffee. A Christmas program with donations going for a nearby
assisted-living facility also grew out of a conversation over coffee.
it started in 2017, a few parishioners and Father Michael Rennier
started hand-roasting coffee in the convection oven in the gym kitchen.
Soon afterward they began roasting at First Crack, which has a proper
coffee roasting machine. They learned to get the perfect roast for their
bean, which has greatly improved the quality of our coffee. hand-roasted coffee beans at the parish .
As interest in the parish-roasted beans grew, they’ve moved off-site,
with Father Rennier usually handling the duties by himself during the
daytime when the volunteers are at work.
In July, the Newshams and
five other young adults accompanied Father Rennier to First Crack
Coffee to roast Breviary Coffee, the house brand served after Mass and
sold for $7 a bag. Profits are go to the parish’s Society of St. Vincent
de Paul conference.
Chris Perron said, “We enjoy spending time with people and community-building.”
wife, Bridget, added that “a great way to start a conversation is to
enjoy a cup of coffee and get to know everyone, whether they’re your age
group or not.”
Edward McCoy said that by purchasing a package of
Breviary Coffee, “from the get-go when you wake up in the morning the
Church is a part of your life, and you give back to those in need.”
volunteer, Bryan Kujawa, said he discovered that “Father Michael is fun
to drink coffee with” and engage in conversation. Kujawa noted that
drinking coffee is usually a daily ritual, so what Epiphany Parish does
is make a connection with that ritual and God.
>> Breviary Coffee
The coffee is sold after Mass at Epiphany
Church, 6596 Smiley Ave. in St. Louis, and at City Greens Market, a
nonprofit organization with a mission to provide access to fresh,
quality and affordable produce at cost in the Forest Park Southeast
neighborhood while supporting local farmers.
Profits are funneled
back to City Greens and for food purchased there which is given to
families served by Epiphany Parish’s Society of St. Vincent de Paul
conference food pantry. The funds also pay for the coffee hour after
1o:30 Mass on Sundays at Epiphany.
The name is derived from the liturgical book containing the psalms, readings, prayers etc., of the Divine Office of the Church.